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Freedom at Midnight

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  9,117 ratings  ·  698 reviews
The end of an empire. The birth of two nations.

Seventy years ago, at midnight on August 14, 1947, the Union Jack began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy’s House, New Delhi. A fifth of humanity claimed their independence from the greatest empire history has ever seen—but the price of freedom was high, as a nation erupted into riots and bloodshed, partition and
Paperback, 629 pages
Published May 4th 2001 by Vikas Publishing House (first published October 1975)
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Kash Gajjar Very much so. I actually found it quite factual and objectively narrated. Yes, the writers have an affection for Mountbatten and that comes through. B…moreVery much so. I actually found it quite factual and objectively narrated. Yes, the writers have an affection for Mountbatten and that comes through. But they have captured the times and the events thereof perfectly, in my opinion. (less)
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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May 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: india, pakistan
Oh goody, yet another book written through colonial tinted glasses.

It's a well written, easy reading book so I can see why it's so popular, and if it was labelled fictional, I'd give it four stars, for fictional it is, speaking of a world where the British Raj and it's leaders brought civilization to the masses, but the masses turned the wise Brits away even though they were led by that holiest of holy cows, Lord Mountbatten - and this turning away caused mass bloodshed in the process. It's almo
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A highly biased book which masquerades as non-fiction but actually reads like sensational fiction.It was an international bestseller and any readers from outside the subcontinent are likely to get a very misleading picture.

If one wants to read an objective and impartial analysis of the events that led to Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan,one should stay away from this book.If one wants merely to be entertained,then,this book will do.

Readers in Pakistan may find it particularly off
Mukesh Kumar
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, history
Very rarely comes a defining moment that changes history to the extent of being un-recognizable and very rarely comes a book that changes your life, perceptions and everything that you presumed to be true once and for all. Independence of India was the defining moment in modern India and this book by the author duo Dominique Lappierre and Larry Collins on the before and after-math of the same is the defining book in my life.

Honestly speaking, not even the most lauding words of mine can do justic
The saga of the Indian subcontinent’s independence from Britain and the creation of the states of India and Pakistan told through a collection of interrelated stories about major events and important figures that influenced the independence movement

A case of interesting history writing that doesn’t present events in the dry, matter-of-fact chronological order (although the semblance of chronology have to be and is maintained in the narrative) as we find in usual history books. This makes it an a
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a terribly difficult book to rate. One the one hand, it will give the reader a profound sense of the tragedy of Indian partition upon independence in 1947. Ten million people were displaced in the border crossings that followed the creation of India and Pakistan. The loss of life is epic and extraordinary, and any who read it will quickly realize that members of all religious groups (in this case, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus) are capable of horrific violence, as well as heroic ...more
Until I read Freedom at Midnight, I really had no desire to visit the Indian subcontinent. Now, I really want to visit India and, if it were safe to do so, visit Pakistan. What a remarkable story these authors tell. So many great passages to read and note. Some humorous, some factual, some tragic:

Three centuries of ruling India had its impact on the men and women who came to work and rule. The authors point out that getting young men to come to the “Jewel in the Crown” to make a name or a fortun
Aishah Macgill
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in History, Indiaphiles.
The best book ever written on the birth of Pakistan as a nation. If you watch the movie Gandhi, and read this book, you have pretty much got the history of the time covered and a good understanding of the politics of the time. Millions of people died when Hindus marched from the north and Muslims marched to the north. Some years ago, I had an Pakistani friend who showed a group of us some photos of his old school. "MY God," our mutual Indian friend exclaimed, "That school building is my family h ...more
This is a highly readable look at one pivotal year in the history of India: 1947, the year that marked the end of British rule and the partition of the subcontinent into two new nations, India and Pakistan. As an introduction to the topic it is hard to beat, but readers need to be aware of several limitations:

1. It was written in 1975. All of the main players were dead with the exception of Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy.

2. It was written in 1975. India and Pakistan were both hard at work
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I always recommend to anyone wanting to understand India better. It covers the six months prior to and six months after 8/15/47, when India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain. So basically it starts with the decision to "Quit India" -- a decision made so suddenly and brazenly and devoid of conscience in its execution as to totally boggle the mind (and we still bear the fruits today, witness what's going on in Pakistan). And it ends with the assassination of Gand ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
This is a well-researched, easy-to-read, even page-turning, history of the last days of the British Raj in 1947/8, the ill-handled partition creating an independent India and Pakistan, and the last days and assassination of Mohandas Gandhi. I thoroughly enjoyed it, being strongly moved by many of the events portrayed.
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. This book gets high marks from many reviewers for its easy reading, and whilst there are some nice rhetorical flourishes, they become overused to the point of cliche (if I never see the words 'Queen Victoria's great-grandson' again it will be too soon). If you want to read a romanticised hagiography of Mountbatten, or, if I'm being charitable, a version of the liberation of India as seen through Mountbatten's eyes: read this. If you want to read something that really gets to the heart o ...more
Pratik Rath
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If one isn't fond of non-fiction, I would suggest trying this one. Beautifully written to make stories from around the period of independence sound like a collection of creative short stories. Towards the long side, but worth the time. I learnt a lot about the independence struggle that I didn't know earlier. Feels like a TV series about that era. ...more
Sandip Roy
Jan 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Written by an American and another French "journalist," yet it reads like Dan Brown(with better grasp on the English language). Never have I come across a book about the history of India, that is so unapologetically colonial in it's nature. I read it because my teacher told me that I would be "amused" by it. And amused I was with the arrogance with which the prose is written and the misrepresentation of history has been perpetrated through these pages.

The writer's use cliched, colonial terms su
Carolyn Walsh
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A fascinating, very readable history of the 1947 partition which split India and resulted in the overnight formation of the present India’s borders and the separate countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh, By humanizing the main characters involved, (Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten) and by including descriptions of what may seem bizarre and exotic to Westerners such as extremely extravagant lifestyles of Maharajahs it reads like an novel. Although most may know that the partition caused ...more
Riju Ganguly
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
When people talk about a book that deals with the freedom and partition of India, somehow this one comes to the mind of everybody. There are reasons. Written like some kind of shabby romance that became a tragedy with darkly comic tone, this soap opera of a book is one of the juiciest pieces of research work that one can read, as far as that particular subject is concerned.
Too bad that the authors had decided to make this a drama, with the Viceroy Mountbatten as its tragic hero, and time as the
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is rare for me to read a non fiction. But fortunately I chose a good book to read.

Freedom at midnight, captures India on two occasions. One, her independence, one of the best moments in her history. Two, the partition, probably the worst time in her history.

Narration:- The author has a distinct advantage which ironically is a disadvantage as well. He gets an outside perspective of India, allowing him to criticise without having to feel obligated to justify any act or man. It is also a disad
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are enough reviews about the content of this book. I will provide my reactions

1. I usually do not buy books, preferring to borrow from a library. I took this one from the library, but after reading it I ordered a copy for myself.
2. It is a history book, encapsulating the one year in which India was made, unmade, and then remade. If my history books had been written by La pierre and Collins, I would have never taken up engineering
3. Painstaking research usually results in unreadable materia
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I learned so much about Gandhi and the history of India. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writers list so many interesting details about the characters. It is unlike any historic account of events. I highly recommend it!
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Epic. Legend. How much it might have taken for them to write this book. Must read for every Indian. Hats off!
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in British Colonialism or India
I see that the header here has failed to note that this book was written by a team of authors: Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. These authors are simply brilliant and have collaberated on a number of stunning historical books about key moments in history, among them, "Is Paris Burning" & "O Jerusalem". This volume is about the struggle for liberation from British rule in India. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. Lapierre & Collins are terrific writers and their works ...more
Sep 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history/India
I'm leaving for India, and this book was recommended to me. I knew nothing about India, except for the movie Gandhi and some misty misconceptions from my misspent youth. Now the animosity and tension between India and Pakistan, Hindu and Muslim, become clearer. The reading is hard going right now (events just after India and Pakistan partition) as the authors describe horrific events. Muslims intercept trainloads full of Hindus fleeing Pakistan and massacred the passengers. Trains arrived in Ind ...more
Ankit Mishra
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
The composition of this book is such that you won't find it difficult to read through the pages, and the authors have weaved it with simple, yet strong literature. The way they have covered the whole period of Independence in over 650 pages is commendable, considering the fact that they have covered almost all the important events.

The book boasts of an exhaustive research done in the library of Mountbatten, over dinners and back in India, which gives an impression that the book is true to the e
Viji (Bookish endeavors)
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The single book can teach you a lot about Indian freedom struggle. Unlike the other history books which states just facts this book shows the social condition too, in its own way. Told in a way that even those who do not not know anything about history can clearly understand. A must read book for all generations.
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
for those who believe that the movie gandhi tells the story of the Quit India movement and partion, please do your ancestors a favor and read this book. a less pretty display of human emotions at work...
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
So, I finally successfully moved out of my reading 'comfort zone' and actually finished a non fiction book(despite finishing 4 other fiction novels since I started this). And the best part is I absolutely loved it.

This book is imo, a must read for each and every Indian and Pakistani to actually understand in detail what exactly happened during those tumultuous times in an unbiased manner through the eyes of the person who was at its epicentre.

Now, I'm not gonna waste too much space on what my
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly reported and written, this 1975 nonfiction book tells the story of the year India became an independent nation and the new nation of Pakistan was created. It covers all of 1947 and about a month of 1948, ending with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi is, of course, a central character. Not having ever seen the movie and not having ever read a book about Gandhi, I learned a lot about him. He was certainly one of the giants of the 20th century.
Among the other central characters
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book that reveals the fine-grained details that transpired during the transition of India from the British raj to an independent one. Like most historical non-fiction books, it inevitably suffers from biases, but that does not discount many of the facts presented. However one chooses to look at the events that unfolded, this book will reveal the highly complex and random nature of the process of India's freedom and the country's administration immediately thereafter. Some kn ...more
Just few days after, India officially got independence, the two spearheads of then Indian politics, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, visited the outgoing Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, and requested him to take back his previous charge. Reason - they felt incapable of handling the horrendous situation partition had presented before them. "Take back the power of India, else there won't be any India," they pleaded.
Mountbatten obliged and, sort-of staying in background, administered in mil
A fascinating book.

I knew that India and Pakistan had been partitioned, but I didn't know all the details of what happened and when. And it explains many cultural nuances with which I was not familiar.

I didn't realize that part of the reason that Hindus hate Muslims so much is because many Muslims took up that religion because they were Hindu Untouchables who didn't want to wait for the next life to have a little say-so in what happened to them. The Hindus always considered Muslims unclean bec
Ajit Dharmik
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
For all those interested in the events surrounding India's independence, creation of Pakistan, and the holocaust that followed, this is a good read. The authors have done a great job describing the political posturing preceding 15th August 1947, how Hindus & Sikhs on one side and Muslims massacred each other, providing all the gory details.

I especially liked the way they described how ordinary Indians celebrated 15th August 1947. I can almost see myself near Connaught Place in New Delhi, celebr
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Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, he was educated at the Loomis Chaffee Institute in Windsor, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale as a BA in 1951. He worked in the advertising department of Procter and Gamble, in Cincinnati, Ohio, before being conscripted into the US Army. While serving in the public affairs office of the Allied Headquarters in Paris, from 1953-1955, he met Dominique Lapierre w ...more

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“On 23 June 1757, marching through a drenching rainfall at the head of 900 Englishmen of the 39th Foot and 2000 Indian sepoys, an audacious general named Robert Clive routed the army of a troublesome Nawab in the rice paddies outside a Bengali village called Plassey.” 2 likes
“Mountbatten was stunned by the rigidity of Jinnah's position. 'I never would have believed,' he later recalled, 'that an intelligent man, well-educated, trained in the Inns of Court, was capable of simply closing his mind” 0 likes
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